Ok so there has been a rise in new cases in Victoria over the past week that on pure numbers in any other jurisdiction in the world would be considered a triumph.
It is something to watch but hardly anything to panic about. It does raise some interesting questions which I will address later but more than anything requires some perspective. If our “experts” or government ministers didn’t think cases were going to rise again once restrictions were eased they were delusional and incompetent and should be sacked.
The massive overreaction to a relatively small increase in Victorian cases is typical politics being hyped up by propaganda and sensationalised media reporting. Andrews has extended his police state by another month and has something to talk about other than endemic Labor corruption. Palaszczuk (and others) can justify her border closure to save Queenslanders from an infectious horde of Victorians. Berejiklian can finally point to a state with a worse problem and move on from her government’s cruise ship fiasco. While Morrison can grandstand about the threat being still with us to excuse his lack of leadership, policies or exit strategy as we drift towards a welfare state of endless debt and deficit.
A reason I have consistently maintained government COVID-19 policy (at all levels) was not just wrong but plain idiotic is that in the absence of a vaccine or treatment you cannot eliminate the virus. If you cannot eliminate the virus you either stay locked down for years till there is nothing socially or economically left or you accept reality, junk the blunt instrument approach and instead adopt low-cost targeted strategies to minimise the worst and protect the most vulnerable.
That is where Victoria is right now and and acts as an admission that the initial blunt instrument overreaction in April was panic and targeted measures were always the only option. We are now facing that moment of truth which the political class and mainstream media are desperately trying to avoid.
Let’s start with a bit of perspective here. Victoria currently has a total of 141 active cases out of a population of 6.36m and has the highest rate of testing in Australia with lowest percentage of positive swabs barring the Northern Territory. Victoria being the “hotspot”, “second wave” plague state, jeopardising the re-opening of borders and relaxation of punitive lockdown laws has . . . wait for it . . . 43 more active cases than NSW! Hence, our epidemic chicken little experts – having learnt nothing the first time – are preaching from soap boxes that this rate of increase in Victoria could result in tens of thousands cases in mere weeks, conveniently forgetting the lack of exponential growth they predicted last time.
Of course if Victoria had followed Queensland’s best-practise example of testing at half the rate (i.e. 5,000 per 100k instead of 10k) it would probably have never identified the dreaded “spike” or “second wave” in the first place and would instead by lecturing Queensland for discovering 38,500 tests (about 14% of total tests) it lost, which incidentally make China’s loss of 80,000 cases look good in comparison given the 1.3b population difference. Naturally, we can take the CMO word for it that only negative cases were lost given the A-plus integrity of the system.
Total cumulative cases in Victoria to date amount to 1,844 which is just over half that of NSW but even adjusting for population is a good 1,000 less. Yet Gladys “Ruby Princess” Berejiklian advice is, “We would recommend nobody travel to those hotspots concerned”, referring to Hume, Casey, Brimbank, Moreland, Cardinia, and Darebin.
These “hotspots” range between 3 and 20 COVID infections across 6 Local Government Areas (LGA) with populations that range between 107,000 (Cardinia) to 340,000 (Casey) which in total add up to 1.2m plus people. We are talking about 40 cases in a population of 1.2m. That works out to 0.0033% of the population. You would have a better chance of being killed by a lightening strike than travelling to Victoria’s “hotspot” destinations. Which probably explains the tumbleweeds rolling through Victoria’s hospital network which is currently swamped by the 7 COVID-19 general admittances and 2 in ICU.
Which brings us to a rather delicate / insensitive question: why would tourists being travelling to these “hotspots” in any event? They are not exactly the poster locations of a Victorian holiday. They comprise mostly of lower and lower-middle class suburbs, with high rates of immigration and few, if any, tourist attractions. The only persons wanting to travel there would likely be visiting family and friends which would suggest that a sub-section of the good people of New South Wales don’t care about the risks and possible impacts for broader society. This suggests the problem is bigger than Victoria.
The problem according to the Victorian Government are ethnic families celebrating in large numbers that are also indifferent to the health risks (even when one or two family members display COVID-19 / cold and flu symptoms) and these ethnic families are the cause for the new “spike” in cases. Naturally, the Victorian Government doesn’t tell us which ethnic minorities we should be worried about and potentially avoid from the point of view of social distancing. That would be politically incorrect even if apparently life saving. In the Left’s world of equality it is better we slur all ethnic minorities as illiterate, pig ignorant, simpletons rather than unfairly name the prime offender.
While one can expect as much from a totalitarian leaning Victorian Government hell bent on secrecy and zero accountability that simultaneously benefits from ethnic branch stacking, it does beggar belief that mainstream media organisations with COVID-19 dashboards for everything are suddenly incurious as to which Victorian ethnic communities represent a high risk.
Looking at the “hotspots” to avoid we see from ABS data that Brimbank has large minorities of Vietnamese and Indians, Hume has large populations of oversees born Iraqi’s, Turks, Indians, and Lebanese, Casey has significant minorities of Indians, Sri Lankans and Afghans, Moreland has significant minorities of Italians, Greeks, Lebanese and Pakistanis. Cardinia has a significant overseas born population from England.
So what can we make from all this and what questions should the media be asking but are not? First, is Islam the main factor in the breakout? Ramadan ended on May 11 and is celebrated by the “Feast of Fast Breaking” which is typically an elaborate occasion involving lots of family and friends. The “hotspots” of Casey, Moreland, Hume and Darebin all have significant Islamic populations – Casey (7.4%), Moreland (9.8%), Hume (16.5%) and Darebin (4.5%). Are the outbreaks tied to religion? It is highly probable that this is the case but it begs the question why the problem is confined to Melbourne and not Sydney which has a larger Muslim population. Why is Melbourne different? Is it a function of testing and tracing rates? Is it function of Melbourne’s more extreme brand of toxic multiculturalism that priorities identity politics above community or national cohesion? Is there an undetected breakout in Sydney as well? Only now is The Australian starting to ask the question.
Second, did Black Lives Matter contribute to the outbreaks in Darebin and Moreland? These two LGA’s are Green/Left strongholds. Moreland City Council has 4 Green, 1 Socialist Alliance, 2 Labor and 4 Independent councillors. Darebin has 3 Greens, 2 former Greens, 2 Labor, 1 former Labor, and 1 independent councillors. Darebin and Moreland include the inner city suburbs of Brunswick, Northcotte and Fitzroy North that are popular amongst university students to live and socialise. In other words they are also Black Lives Matter strongholds and we now have a breakout there just two weeks after Andrews meekly acquiesced to large public protests of the militant Left. Did Black Lives Matter contribute to the outbreak? Or is it simply coincidence?
Third, what is going on in Brimbank and what are the authorities doing about it? It is has 20 active cases and according to reports the current spike are linked to a single Keilor Downs family. It would be good to know some details about the family involved and initial source of COVID-19 infection. While Brimbank’s largest minority is by far Vietnamese the suburb of Keilor Downs is 6% Islamic which ties back to the first question and end of Ramadan celebrations.
It seems extraordinary that one family (extended family) could be allegedly responsible for the entire outbreak in Brimbank but given that is what has been reported it also offers a very easy solution to contain the spread. Put the entire extended family into enforced quarantine as though they were a returned traveller and don’t let them out till they all test negative. Why should an entire area of 200k plus people be forced into locked down because of the reckless indifference of one family?
Fourth, are returning travellers from the sub-continent part of the problem? Indians, Sri Lankans and Pakistanis are the only other significant ethnic minorities that cuts across a number of hotspots. They also constitute a majority of returning overseas passengers over the past two weeks. However, if this were the cause of the spike it would imply the hotel quarantine system is compromised (which it is actually looking like by either accident or corruption) with people being released from 14 days isolation while still positive to COVID-19 or being allowed out while in quarantine. Furthermore, statements from government about language barriers being part of the blame tends to rule out Indians who are generally fluent English speakers. Finally, if returning Indians were a major cause behind the spike one would expect to see this reflected in the Greater Dandenong LGA in which Indians make up about 10% of the population. In fact Greater Dandenong is close to Brimbank with large Vietnamese and Indian populations but there is no spike there suggesting the Keilor Downs problem is unlikely to be Indian or Vietnamese related.
So what do we get from all this. Beware travelling to Victoria. There are 43 more active cases of COVID-19 compared to NSW so your chances of being infected are exponentially worse. We can’t say how many more compared to Queensland because they don’t test and lose them if they do. If you must travel to Victoria avoid the plethora of popular tourist attractions in Melbourne’s disadvantaged Islamic communities. Please also adopt the precautionary principle when holidaying or working in Melbourne by avoiding all far Left political activity and staying clear of Labor and Green Black Liver Matter LGA’s. Your risk of infection will also increase if you participate in the sport of statue toppling. Please use sanitiser. It would also be wise to travel sooner rather than later in case you may require medical assistance. With hospital admissions falling from 9 to 7, including ICU admissions falling from 3 to 2 in the past 24 hours, epidemiologist are bracing for the 20,000 plus bed hospital system to be overwhelmed by infected Fast Breakers in coming weeks. On the positive side Dan Andrew’s request for military intervention in COVID-19 hotspots is thought to lower Victoria’s national security threat level and public health experts are at this stage saying the consumption of curry or pho is safe (well from COVID-19 in any event).
In conclusion panic, panic, panic. Its the second wave and we are all going to die!